By Ernle Bradford
A richly detailed biography of the world’s most famous explorer…
Christopher Columbus has become the archetypal figure of the sailor, the adventurer and the explorer. His celebrated voyage in 1492 when he discovered the New World has overshadowed everything else about the man. But he was much more than a sailor. He was a mystic, profoundly religious, and yet at the same time ambitious. While dreaming of recapturing Jerusalem from the Moslems, he was also quite capable of driving a hard bargain with his employers as to the rights and privileges – and riches – that should accrue to himself if he succeeded in his mission of finding a way to the Indies by sailing due west across the Atlantic.
Columbus learned his skills as a young man in the Mediterranean and then in the service of Portugal. Ernle Bradford proves quite clearly that the old legend about Columbus insisting that the world was round while all the scholars said that it was flat is utterly untrue. The opposition to his idea of finding China and Japan by sailing due west was based on the completely accurate conception of the world being a great deal larger than he said it was. To the end of his days Columbus insisted he was in the Indies, even when it had become quite clear to many of his contemporaries that they were in fact in some area of the world which had hitherto been completely unknown to Europeans. As a coloniser he possessed limited administrative gifts but as a sailor and as a pilot he was without a peer.
In this superb book, Ernle Bradford reveals Columbus in all his complexity.